Anant Singh, who was once termed an “anti-social element” by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, has been given a party ticket to contest the Bihar assembly election from the Mokama seat.
Anant Singh is currently lodged in Bihar’s Beur jail under an Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case after weapons including AK-47 were found from his house last year.
The 59-year-old, who has a long criminal record, was granted permission by jail authorities to file his nomination on Wednesday. There was speculation that he would side with the RJD in this election after he said last month that he would get a ticket and wanted to see Tejashwi as the next chief minister of Bihar.
The flamboyant don-turned-politician, who won the Mokama seat as an independent candidate in the 2015 assembly election, was earlier with the Janata Dal (United) or JD(U).
Before the 2015 election, a police team had raided his official residence at Mall Road in Bihar capital Patna and found six empty magazines from an INSAS rifle and some blood-stained clothes. He wasn’t arrested then but later landed in jail in a separate case of kidnapping and murder.
Known as ‘Chote Sarkar’ in his area, Singh is a three-time MLA who first won from the Mokama seat in 2005. He had to face the law when RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav ensured that the Bihar police took action in the kidnapping and murder case of a man called Putus Yadav. Putus Yadav was kidnapped and murdered after he allegedly harassed a woman related to Singh in Barh town of Bihar in 2015.
After Singh’s name cropped up in the case and led to his subsequent arrest, the JD(U) was forced to deny him a ticket from the Mokama assembly seat. Singh, however, contested as an independent candidate and won the election by more than 18,000 votes.
The notorious MLA, who was once considered close to chief minister Nitish Kumar, has more than 25 cases registered against him since 1976, including eight murder cases.
Nitish Kumar, who has never missed a chance to flaunt his ‘clean’ image and genuine improvement of law and order after the RJD’s 15-year rule, and has often taken credit for jailing gangsters such as Mohammad Shahabuddin, conveniently did not take any concrete action against Singh until 2015, when he aligned with Lalu Yadav.
RJD giving a ticket to the man it once protested against indicates the tough fight it has ahead of it to unseat the JD(U)-BJP alliance in Bihar. Two RJD spokespersons did not respond to phone calls from HuffPost India.
Singh, who’s routinely seen sporting dark glasses and a handlebar moustache, has a reputation for roughing up even journalists. In his book Ruled Or Misruled: Story and Destiny of Bihar, Patna-based senior journalist Santosh Singh has written about an incident from November 2007, when a TV journalist had gone to speak to Singh about a crime in which he was alleged to be involved.
“For a few minutes, he talked nicely to the reporter and his camera crew. But the moment he was told by his supporters that the channel had already run negative news about him, Anant was a different man… He asked his supporters to close the main gate. The journalist was badly beaten. The cameraman escaped and alerted the media house. Patna journalists learned about it and went to his Patna residence to lodge a protest. The CM officer was informed, state DGP was called… But the media persons who had gone to express solidarity with the aggrieved journalists were beaten and chased away by Singh’s goons and it happened right under the nose of power,” Santosh Singh wrote.
The RJD, which was in opposition then, had enforced a Patna Bandh the next day to protest the incident.
“Nitish Kumar buckled under pressure and Singh was arrested. When he came out on bail, the aggrieved journalist had little option but to seek compromise by withdrawing his case against the MLA. No one can risk making the likes of Singh a permanent enemy,” Santosh Singh had written.